REWRITING THE BOOK
By C.G. Scum
What if Shawn Michaels never “lost his smile” or forfeited the WWF Title in February of 1997?
The road to WrestleMania 13 continues with several hot feuds building as WWF heads towards its biggest event of the year and major changes in the company continue to build toward what is eventually to become the biggest boom period in company history, “The Attitude Era.” The month of March starts with a Monday Night Raw that was actually taped on Febraury 26, 1997 on the company’s European tour. It airs in the United States on March 3, 1997.
Monday Night Raw- March 3, 1997- Berlin, Germany
Raw comes on the air and it is notable that the usual broadcast team is a bit different, as Jim Ross and Vince McMahon are joined by The Honky Tonk Man at ringside. The show starts with Bret Hart’s music hitting and “The Hitman” coming to the ring and grabbing a microphone.
Bret: “Well, here we go again. Another Monday night and another week gone by that the WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels isn’t here and is not performing on the company’s flagship program, Monday Night Raw. Great role model he is, isn’t he? Well, Shawn, your days with that belt around your waist are numbered, because with WrestleMania just twenty days away, you can no longer duck me. You said last week that I am jealous of you? That I feel ‘entitled’ to something? More dillusional comments from a self-serving low life. You wanna say I am crying out here, but the facts are simple Shawn, the truth hurts and the truth is that it is you that has always been jealous of me and always trying to bury me. You have stolen my ideas and you can’t deny it. You wanna talk an even playing field Shawn? You wanna show that you are the “Showstopper” and that you are gonna overcome all kinds of odds to keep your ‘boyhood dream’ alive? Well, how about we up the ante, Mr. Main Event? How about we take it to the next level at WrestleMania, and I prove to you that you stole my idea? Here is a challenge for you to chew on, Shawn, not only do I want to take your WWF title at WrestleMania, I want to expose you even further as the fraud I say you are. So, how about we make our match, Bret “The Hitman” Hart versus Shawn Michaels, the so-called “King of the Ladder Match,” which was actaully my idea that I brought here, so how about we make it just that? A World Title ladder match, so you can show everyone that heart and those odds you always say you are overcoming. I will beat you from one side of that arena to the other and then climb to the top rung at WrestleMania, proving to the world that me, Bret Hart, is the true WWF Champion, the true innovator of the ladder match and without a doubt, the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.” (Bret tosses the mic down and leaves as his music blares over the PA. The announcers inform us that we will see three big main events tonight, as the British Bulldog and Owen Hart, the current tag champs will face each other in the finals of a tournament to crown the first ever European Champion, Sycho Sid will face of with Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Maivia, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Mankind)
Following a commercial break, Ahmed Johnson enters the ring and accepts Faarooq’s challenge from a few weeks earlier, to face off in a “street fight” at WrestleMania. When Ahmed leaves ringside, the broadcasters speak by telephone with Paul Heyman about the ongoing feud with Jerry Lawler and his company, ECW. Lawler also calls in and speaks live with the announcers later on during the broadcast. We then cut to the backstage area, where an irate Vader is stomping through the locker room area. He walks past a conversation between several referees, stops and brutally attacks them before continuing walking with a purpose as the show goes to commercial.
After the break, we see Vader again, still backstage, as he passes Aldo Montoya and Leif Cassidy. He viciously headbutts Montoya and then turns and assaults Cassidy. As he continues his walk he comes around the corner and walks into WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon.
Monsoon: “You have got to be kidding me. Between you and Austin, I have had it up to my ears with this nonsense. How many times must I remind you of the rules and regulations around here. You two are animals, you can’t just march around here and do as you please, I don’t care how big you are. Just like Austin last week, you are out of here, pal. You are going back to the hotel or to the airport, or wherever you need to go, but it is not going to be here. Oh yeah, and wherever you wind up, tune in for my big announcement that I spoke of last week, it certainly pertains to you and may finally be an outlet to get some of this aggression you’ve been showing out. (Security has appeared, Gorilla speaks to them) Get him out of here, please.”
Vader: (As he is escorted from the building) “Oh, I will be watching Monsoon, and I better like what I see or it will be Vader time for you too.”
Monsoon: “Give me a break, guys , get him out of here.”
The show cuts back to the ring and Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Maivia is introduced, followed by Sycho Sid. Following the lead of Sid in the past few weeks during his matches, The Undertaker makes his way to ringside and joins the announce team for commentary. In addition to his appearance, Mankind and Paul Bearer walk out and watch the contest from the entrance ramp, appearing to be scouting the competition as they head to their big WrestleMania showdown.
Match- Sycho Sid vs. Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Mavia- The match begins with the speedy youngster, Maivia, utilizing his quickness to play some hit and run with his larger more experienced opponent. He scores with several big hip tosses, a pair of standing dropkicks, and finally a clothesline that sends Sid to the floor after a 360 over the top rope. Sid seems less hurt than he is angered by the opening flurry of offense, and he charges back into the ring
only to be caught with a drop toe hold, as Rocky floats over onto the Sycho’s back and pulls up on a rear chin lock. After Sid reaches the ropes causing a break, he again charges wildly and Maivia again side steps the big man, hurling him again to the floor. Following up, the I-C titlist makes a big mistake, as he leaps off the apron at Sid and is caught in midair in a bear hug. Sid squeezes with all his might and holds on as he runs full speed three consecutive times, introducing Maivia’s spine to the steel ring post. He continues to work over the champion, slinging him back first into the ring steps and then the steel barricade. He then clears out the Spanish announcers and pulls the monitors from the table before cinching Rocky between his legs in preparation for a powerbomb. This prompts The Undertaker to get out of his seat in attempt to stop the brutal beating. Sid releases Rocky and turns his attention to the Dead Man as the two huge competitors go face to face again. In the meantime, Maivia rolls back into the ring, and Mankind charges down the aisle, sliding in the ring and blindsides Rocky with Paul Bearer’s urn, knocking him down and raining several shots with the object to his skull, prompting the referee to ring the bell and award the bout by disqualification to Maivia. Upon seeing this, the Undertaker slides into the ring and tries to grab Mankind, who retreats in a hurry. The Undertaker keeps his eyes on both Foley and Sid as both head back up the aisle individually while tending to the now injured IC Champ as the show cuts to a commercial.
After the commercial, WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon appears on the TitanTron, in his backstage office. He speaks to both the in house crowd and the television audience.
Monsoon: “Well, I have promised a big announcement here tonight regarding the recent dispicible actions that have taken place by both Steve Austin and the man they call Vader, and I will get to that in just a second here. Before I address their issue, I do have one other announcement to make regarding WrestleMania 13, to be held at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago on March 23. I have just spoken with the board of directors and they have informed me that due to their recent activity in one another’s matches that a one on one contest has been signed for WrestleMania, pitting Goldust against Hunter Hearst Helmsley. That being said and getting back to the Austin and Vader situation, I have also made an executive decision regarding the two of them as it pertains to WrestleMania. Given the brutality and bloodshed that has taken place over the past few weeks between these two I have decided they they also will face off in a one on one contest at WrestleMania, however, due to the carnage caused by these two, I feel that a regular singles match would not put an end to this madness, so in an attempt to one way or another have this bout be the final meeting between the two, I have made this a “First Blood” match, in which the winner will be crowned only when they have drawn blood from their opponent. The one final piece of this puzzle that I spoke of last week that I was having trouble putting together stemmed from my concern for any official that would have to call this match due to the obvious disdain for any authority that both Austin and Vader have shown. This final piece came together earlier this week, when by a telephone conference I secured the services of a special enforcer referee for this “First Blood” match. That special enforcer will be Ultimate Fighting legend, Ken Shamrock. Additionally, next week on Raw I will have a stipulation to be added that both competitors must follow. This stipulation will be unveiled when I will take to the ring with Vader, Steve Austin, and Ken Shamrock next week to further discuss this issue. Thank you very much for this time and enjoy the rest of the show.”
After the Monsoon address, the action goes back to the ring, where The Sultan defeats Flash Funk by submission to his camel clutch. After the break, the next match is the European Championship finals, and the British Bulldog becomes the first man to ever hold that title, defeating his partner Owen Hart with a rollup in what was an absolutely spectacular match up. As another commercial hits, the announcers note that Shawn Michaels will be at next week’s Raw, where a whole new look and feel of the show will debut. A graphic showing that the Austin/Mankind main event is coming up next is also shown briefly. Upon returning to the air, Mankind and Paul Bearer come to the ring, followed by the “glass breaking” once again and the entrance of “Stone Cold.”
Match- “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Mankind (with Paul Bearer)- The contest begins with Austin lighting right into his deranged foe. A combination of punches and kicks lead to Austin scoring with a huge clothesline off the ropes that sees Mankind roll to the floor to regroup. Austin follows him to the outside, though, continuing his assault. He drops Paul Bearer with a right hand as well when the portly manager attempts to shield his client from the attack and then continues the beating, choking out Mankind with a nearby cable chord. Letting go of the grip around his throat, Austin then tosses Mankind right across the announcers table, sending him awkwardly head first into the neighboring Spanish announcers table. Austin then turns to the timekeeper and is jostling for position with him, trying to take the ring bell from him. During this struggle, Mankind is helped back to his feet by Bearer, and manages to duck “The Rattlesnake’s” attempt to “ring his bell.” A boot to the gut by Mankind is followed by a sickening double arm DDT off the arena floor, with both competitors being left lying as the referee’s count reaches seven. Foley is the first to return to the ring and when Austin enters, he catches him unexpectedly coming in with the mandible claw. Weakening “Stone Cold,” Mankind puts his opponent on his back with the move, actually scoring two near falls while holding on to his grip. After Austin reaches the ropes for a break, Foley charges him, but is sidestepped. When both rebound off the ropes, Austin scores with a Lou Thez press and a series of right hands. Upon regaining his feet, Mankind is sized up, as Austin cinches in the “Million Dollar Dream,” leaving his opponent shrieking in pain. The ropes are again reached for a break, with Austin shoving his foe to the mat after the break. Strangely, Sycho Sid reappears at this point, sprinting to ringside with an object in his hands. Austin waits on Foley and when he rises, scores with a kick to the stomach and a picture perfect “Stone Cold Stunner.” Just as Austin hits his finisher and pops back up before having a a chance to make the cover, Sid hits the ring and wallops him over the skull with the object he had in hand, Paul Bearer’s urn. He gives “Stone Cold” several more blasts to the head with the urn, again reopening the wounds on his forehead, as the referee calls for the bell and disqualifies Mankind for blatant outside interference. The Sycho simply drops the urn on the mat and with no explanation turns and heads back to the dressing room. The show goes off the air as the broadcaster’s voice their collective confusion and the camera zooms in on Bearer consoling Mankind and caressing the urn, with the once again bloodied Austin in the forefront of the shot.
Monday Night Raw/Raw is War- March 10, 1997- Worcester, MA
Tonight’s Raw is the debut of the new “Raw is War “ format, with a new stage and added pyro, plus an all-around edgier feel to the show. The announce team informs us at the top of the show that WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels is in Worcester for the show tonight and that we will hear from him live tonight. They also pump up the schedule in ring discussion involving WWF President, gorilla Monsoon and all of the participants in the “First Blood” match at WrestleMania, Steve Austin, Vader, and special enforcer referee, Ken Shamrock. Raw begins as they go to the ring, where Jim Ross waits for an interview with Sycho Sid.
Ross: “Sycho Sid, you head into WrestleMania 13 ready to go to all-out war in a triple threat, unsanctioned bout with both The Undertaker and Mankind. Over the course of the past few weeks, we have seen the happenings involving you and these other two men take on a roller coaster ride of twists and turns. Then, last week, in Berlin, we saw you and Mankind interfere in one another’s matches once again. However, a question has been raised due to your striking of Steve Austin with Paul Bearer’s urn, is their some type of allegiance between yourself and Paul Bearer, and or Mankind? Or was there more to the story that we are missing?”
Sid: “Jim Ross, Jim Ross, Jim Ross. How naïve of you. First off, what gives you the right to come out here and question me and where I am coming from. I am Sycho Sid, I am a former WWF Champion, and I am the ruler of the world. I do what I want, when I want , to whoever I want, you got it. As for Sycho Sid forming an alliance, he is always a man who walks alone. After my match last week, that urn just happened to be on my path to the ring, and after Mankind had interfered and cost me my match, I thought it was my turn to do the same for him and cost him his match. Anything that you want to look deeper into on this, you be my guest, but Sycho Sid is done addressing this situation and he is focusing on two things. Number one, overcoming both Mankind and the Undertaker at WrestleMania, and then number two getting my hands around the throat of whoever wins the championship match and squeezing until the WWF title is back where it belongs, around the waist of the most powerful force in this company, Sycho Sid.” (Sid stares into the camera, laughing as the show cuts to a break)
When the show returns, we go to the ring as Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Maivia successfully defends against Billy Gunn. Following his win, The Sultan, Bob Backlund and the Iron Sheik approach the ring, stating that The Sultan will be the next I-C Champion. The three attempt to charge Rocky, but he fights off all three, with the aid of Tony Atlas, who entered from the crowd to stand by his former tag partner’s son. Following this match, we cut to WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon in his backstage office. He addresses the in house crowd and the television audience.
Monsoon: “With WrestleMania 13 just under two weeks away, things are sure heating up here in the World Wrestling Federation. With that being said, I have several blockbuster announcements regarding that huge event on March 23. First, on the heels of what we have just seen, I have signed an Intercontinental Championship match to take place at WrestleMania between the current champion, Rocky Maivia and the challenger, The Sultan. In addition to this, I have another announcement regarding the World Tag Team Championship pertaining to WrestleMania. As a part of the “Free for All” portion of the pay per view broadcast, I have signed for there to be a “Tag Team Battle Royal,” in which the final two teams standing will go on later in the night to face off against the WWF Tag Team Champions, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog. The participants in the battle royal will be, The New Blackjacks, The Headbangers, Savio Vega and Crush, Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon, the Godwinns, and the Legion of Doom. The remaining four teams from the Battle Royal will also compete at WrestleMania, as they will take back to the ring for the first match of the night in a sudden death four way matchup in which the first team of the four to score a pinfall or submission will not only be crowned the winners, but they will be the number one contender to the championship and receive a shot at that title at next month’s In Your House pay per view spectacular. Finally, I do have one more item of business regarding WrestleMania and it relates to the comments and challenge laid down by Bret Hart last week on Raw. I have spoken with both the board of directors and WWF Champion Shawn Michaels and all parties agreed to accept the challenge of the “Hitman,” thus making the World Championship match between Bret and Shawn at WrestleMania 13 a ladder match. As for tonight, as a precursor to the huge matches we will see at WrestleMania, I have booked a very special main event six man tag match for tonight. This match will see the team of Mankind, Sycho Sid, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley take on the threesome of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Goldust, and The Undertaker. I thank you again for your time and I will see you out in the ring later tonight.”
After a break, we return to the ring and WWF Tag Team Champions, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog drop a decision to the New Blackjacks after the Legion of Doom interfere and attack Windham and Bradshaw. Following this, Savio Vega and Crush also enter the fray, attacking the Champions. Owen and the Bulldog appear to be arguing as they head back to the dressing room. The cameras then cut to a backstage interview with Faarooq, detailing his upcoming WrestleMania battle with Ahmed Johnson. After this they head back to ringside, as Shawn Michaels music hits and the WWF Champion head towards the squared circle, walking on crutches with a microphone in hand.
Michaels: (Crowd cheering him wildly) “Wow, it’s good to be back. An awful lot has been going on around here the last few weeks, huh? Well, Bret Hart, you asked for it and you got it, Mr. Hero. It’s you and “the Showstopper” at WrestleMania in a ladder match for the WWF Title. Is my leg at full strength? Not quite yet, but like I told you Bret, it will be an even playing field come March 23, so there are no worries there. I will do just what I did last year in the “Iron Man” match, and I will defeat you and retain the WWF championship. Then you can cry and whine all you want about your legacy, and the kids in the audience, and the boys in the back, but, Bret, when all that crying and whining is done, this “truth” that you like to speak of will hurt, but it will hurt for you, as the plain and simple “truth” is this, you can’t beat me Bret, and the reason for that is simple, I am just flat out better than you. So, WrestleMania 13, the granddaddy of them all, “Mr. Ladder Match,” “the Main Event,” “the Heartbreak Kid,” Shawn Michaels will climb to the top once again, snatch that WWF title belt and leave just as he enters, as WWF Champion and as “The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.” (Michaels mugs to the camera sarcastically after using Bret’s catchphrase, mocking his rival as he puts his hands at his side calling to the crowd as Hart normally does when entering the ring. After a short break, we head immediately back to the ring, where WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon arrives first, followed by Ken Shamrock, Vader(with Paul Bearer), and then “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. )
Monsoon: “Ok, welcome and thank you all for coming out here to address my added stipulation. Let’s not get any crazy ideas, either of you. (looks at Austin and Vader) Now given the completely unacceptable actions and behavior of the two of you and your complete lack of respect for me as WWF President, the officials in this company, and even for your fellow competing WWF superstars, I made the executive decision to put Ken Shamrock in your “First Blood” match as a special enforcer referee. That you already know. I realize as a former competitor and with the bad blood between you two that you will go to any lengths to get at each other, however, that animosity has made for an unsafe working condition here for both of you. Thus, you have left me no choice but to enforce the following between now and WrestleMania, neither one of you two are allowed to physically lay a hand on each other or any other active member of WWF’s wrestling roster until March 23 at WrestleMania for any reason what so ever, (Both Austin and Vader argue, but Shamrock and Monsoon restore order) and if you do make contact with each other or attack any other WWF superstar that you are not directly involved in an actual in ring matchup setting , not only will the match at WrestleMania be cancelled, but you will be fined and face a suspension of up to 90 days. Now again, I know how much you two love a good fight, so even though you both are not competing here tonight, you will have one last chance to get all your frustrations out next week on Raw, when we hold a special 20 man over the top rope battle royal to determine who will be the number one contender to the WWF title after WrestleMania. Both of you will be entered in that contest and although you cannot touch each other, you will have 18 other superstars just itching for a fight. Thank you all for your time and enjoy the big main event coming up later tonight.”(Austin and Vader jaw back and forth as Shamrock looks on and stands somewhat between the two.)
When the show returns from commercial, we see a seething mad Vader backstage pacing through the hall. He walks around the corner face to face into an equally distraught Steve Austin. The two stand chest to chest trading death stares as they both breathe heavily. Ken Shamrock walks into the picture, looking over both and then laughing, enjoying the moment. Austin steps aside and continues walking away, and as Shamrock watches him still chuckling, Vader blindsides him with a stiff forearm to the head. Shamrock shoots back and a host of wrestlers break up the two. As Vader thinks better of it, he walks away and around the corner again walks into President Monsoon, Vader shakes his head in disbelief.
Vader: “What do you just follow me everywhere I go? What is your problem, Monsoon?”
Monsoon: “You know my problem, it’s you and your total disregard for the rules. You are lucky, Ken Shamrock is not an active wrestler, or you’d be out of here for 90 days. Either way, you know the drill by now, you are outta here, and don’t come back until you can get it through your head that we have protocol around here that needs following. See you next week, pal.”
Vader: (Refuses security’s escort and walks out door on his own) “Yeah, yeah, I know the drill, I know the drill.”
We now head to the ring for the main event. Shawn Michaels music hits first and he joins the commentary crew for the match. Each participant is individually introduced and we are set for six man tag action.
Match- Mankind (w/Paul Bearer, Sycho Sid, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. The Undertaker, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and Goldust (w/Marlena)- The main events starts with a bang, as all six men trade punches in the ring. Undertaker and Mankind square off, while Hart and Sid also trade blows, and Helmsley and Goldust roll around on the mat, jockeying for position and swapping fists until their fight spills out of the ring. Finally some semblance of order is maintained, as Bret and Sid officially begin the contest with Sid gaining an early advantage. He clubs Hart with repeated forearm smashes to the back of the doubled over “Hitman,” knocking him to his knees. Staying on top of his opponent, Sid pulls both of Bret’s arms behind him, riding a knee into his spine as he stretches him with a surfboard type maneuver. He reaches back and makes the tag to Mankind, who enters and catches Bret with four consecutive left boots to the jaw. With Bret slumped in the corner, the deranged one sprints from the far side and rocks his opponent with a running knee to the face. Showing surprising continuity, Helmsley is tagged in next, and he continues to work on Hart, stretching out his leg and dropping several elbows on his knee. Continuing to work the limb, Hunter wraps around Bret’s knee with a spinning toe hold twice, before Bret instinctively kicks him off, sending Helmsley flying face first into the corner ring post. With this opening, Bret crawls to his corner to make a tag. Hunter does the same, reaching his corner first and bringing Mankind back into the match. Just as Foley goes to grab the ankle of “The Hitman” however, Bret leaps and tags in the outstretched arm of The Undertaker. Catching the “hot tag,’ The Dead Man opens up on Mankind, rocking him with rights and lefts, before tossing him over the top rope to the floor, Helmsley sprints in and receives much of the same, running into several big punches before also being discarded over the top rope. Sid then charges the ‘Taker as well, missing with a big boot and catching an Undertaker clothesline, completely emptying the ring of the one team as the Sycho does a 360 all the way to the floor. After a quick regroup, Foley reenters the ring and locks back up with the Undertaker. The results are much of the same, as the “Phenom” gets the upper hand, driving his hated rival to the corner and crushing him with a series of elbows to the side of the head. An arm twist later, the ‘Taker goes “old school,” hitting a big shot off the ropes and dropping Mankind, who luckily is near his corner and tags back in Helmsley. Hunter is leery in approaching the Undertaker and becomes outright livid when the Dead Man slowly walks back and tags in Goldust who is pleading for a piece of his WrestleMania foe. The two collide mid ring, with Helmsley reversing an Irish Whip that sees Goldust duck a high knee and spring back off the ropes with a spear. He mounts Helmsley and bounces the back of his skull of the mat repeatedly, before getting back to his feet and hurling Hunter back off the ropes. Angling him perfectly, Goldust scores with a well-timed bulldog and the rises to set up his finisher, “The Curtain Call.” As he hoists up Helmsley, Chyna has locked Marlena in a brutal bear hug on the outside, shaking her violently and walking toward the backstage area with her in her grasp. Goldust turns his attention to this, allowing Hunter to tag in Sid, as Goldust turns around and slaps Bret’s chest, tagging him in and sprinting in pursuit of his manager. Helmsley follows and blindsides Goldust on the ramp, and the two begin brawling all the way into the backstage area. Meanwhile, Sid again gains an upperhand on Hart, tossing him over the top rope to the floor after an impressive clothesline and a follow up boot to the face. Sid and the ‘Taker exchange words as Bret recoups on the floor and upon regaining his feet has some choice words for HBK, who has now stood up on his crutches at the announce table. Bret smacks the headset clean off Michaels with an open hand slap, sending him reeling as loses his balance and falls back ward, dropping one crutch. The referee at this point has been distracted by Paul Bearer who has come on the apron and mankind looks to seize the opportunity, leaping from the near side apron with the urn in hand, looking to skull the “Hitman.” Bret, however, reacts quickly, and snatches the fallen crutch, catching Foley with a homerun swing to the midsection as he was about to strike, knocking the urn backwards from his hand. Hart rolls back in and tags the ‘Taker who meets Sid in the ring with a series of “soup bone” rights and lefts. With the Sycho reeling, Undertaker hoists him to his shoulder and launches him headfirst with the “Snake Eyes” maneuver twice, carrying him to two separate corners in doing so. Mankind has now recovered and despite not being the legal man, charges toward the ring at the ‘Taker who has just tagged Hart back in. Foley is cut off by a huge ‘Taker boot to the face, which again brings Bearer to the apron in an argument with the official. Seeing the opportunity and not realizing Bret had been tagged in, Sid picks up the urn that still is laying on the mat and when Undertaker turns he blasts him with it right between the eyes, tossing it behind him after laying the “Dead Man” out. Hart, however, being the intelligent ring hand he always is, was waiting behind Sid and catches the Urn when it is tossed and just as the Sycho turns around, Bret catches him with an equally devastating shot leaving the big man out on his feet. Bret follows up immediately with a small package as the referee returns from his distraction for an easy three count and the victory. Undertaker and Sid both are down in the ring, as Bret slowly gets up and has his hand raised. Shockingly, just as he turns around, he is greeted by a cowboy boot to the face, courtesy of Michaels and some “Sweet Chin Music.” Shawn is moving just fine as he has set both crutches down in the ring as he follows up and mounts the “Hitman,” pummeling him with punches. Michaels, then picks up one of the crutches and begins bringing it down in succession over the “Hitman’s” knee, leaving Bret writhing in pain. Returning the favor from a few weeks back, Michaels wraps Hart’s knee around the ringpost three times, before looking under the apron and electrifying the crowd when he pulls a steel ladder out from underneath. He slides it in the ring and follows in after, picking up the steel structure and driving it into the now injured leg of Hart. Shawn then folds the ladder’s two sides, placing Bret’s legs between the two and as the crowd offers a collective gasp and moan, leaps from the second rope and lands with both feet on the open end of the ladder, crushing Bret’s leg in between it. Following this, Shawn retrieves his WWF title belt from the announcers table, and returns to the ring, setting the ladder upright over top of the “Hitman” as Raw goes off the air to the image of the champion standing atop the top two rungs of the ladder holding the championship for all to see as his challenger squirms in pain beneath it. Michaels in a close up shot says into the camera, “I told you I’d even the playing field,” smiling from ear to ear as the camera pans back out to him atop the ladder as the screen goes to black.
Raw is War- March 17, 1997- Syracuse, NY
The show begins with a video package recap of the end of last week’s six man tag bout, revisiting the two times recently that Sid has thumped the Undertaker with Paul Bearer’s urn before switching gears and showing the Michaels attack on Bret Hart and his holding the title as he stands atop the ladder. The video package ends as Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Jerry Lawler tell us that during tonight’s broadcast in addition to the huge number one contenders battle royal that was announced last week, we will see the contract signing for the WWF Championship Ladder Match at WrestleMania between Shawn Michaels and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. They then go right up to the ring, where in the opening contest, The Headbangers and Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon battle to a no contest following their bout being riddled with interference as The Godwinns, The New Blackjacks, Savio Vega and Crush, and The Legion of Doom all turn the tag team bout into a full scale 12-man brawl and a preview of things to come in the Tag Team Battle royal that is set to take place during the “Free for all” segment of WrestleMania. Tag Champs Owen Hart and the British Bulldog join the announce team for this match, at several points the champions disagree with each other during the commentary and even as they are walking out as the brawl developed, they still don’t seem on the same page, heading into the first commercial break.
When Raw returns, we are in the backstage area, where “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is pacing the halls like a caged animal. He continues his fast paced walk when he happens by Bret Hart, who has his knee taped heavily and in a brace in addition to using crutches to assist him in getting around. Austin smiles at Hart and questions him , “Awww, did little Bret hurt his little knee? I was hoping you were gonna go win your precious belt back, so when I win the battle royal tonight, I could take it from you in two weeks here on Raw. You’re not gonna cry are you, Bret?” Hart shoots an icy glare at Austin and starts moving away from him, but when “Stone Cold turns his back, Bret bends one of his crutches over Austin’s back, knocking him to the floor. Austin struggles to get up and cocks a right hand ready to swing, when his arm is grabbed by a passing by Ken Shamrock. Austin turns and tackles Shamrock and the two roll around on the floor, struggling for an advantage. When finally separated, Austin gets up and dusts himself off, walking straight around the corner and chest to chest with WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon. As Gorilla goes to speak, Austin cuts him off.
Austin: “ I know, I know, I know. I know the drill by now. I will let myself out, damn it. I was gonna go grab me a few cold ones anyhow before the battle royal tonight. I will see you later tonight, ya’ silly bastard and once I win that battle royal and finish off Vader Sunday, you better get ready for a whole new era of hell raising when I become WWF Champion here in a few weeks.”
Monsoon:(Watching as Austin exits out a nearby door out of the building, shaking his head) “Unbelievable, you have gotta be kidding me with these guys. Thank god this will all be over in a few days. (He sighs) Gimme a break.”
The action then returns back to the ring, for another tag team bout, as the team of Intercontinental Champion, Rocky Maivia and Ahmed Johnson take on a team comprised of their WrestleMania opponents, The Sultan (with Bob Backlund and the Iron Shiek) and Faarooq which ends in a countout win for Maivia and Johnson when The Sultan and Faarooq get into a disagreement on the floor and actually come to blows while the referees count reaches ten. Before the commercial break, we see Goldust searching high and low backstage for Marlena, whom he has not seen since her “abduction” at the hands of Chyna one week prior.
Returning from the break, we see Dok Hendrix backstage at the Raw is War interview area with Vader, Mankind, and Paul Bearer.
Hendrix: “Gentlemen, we are just six days out from WrestleMania 13, and boy do you both have some serious scores to settle. Vader, your ongoing feud with Steve Austin has reached a boiling point and is about ready to explode this Sunday in the “First Blood” match and Mankind the plot surrounding your three way unsanctioned bout with the Undertaker and Sycho Sid continues to thicken. Now on top of that, you each have a chance here tonight to become the number one contender for the WWF title, to receive a championship match here on Raw in just two short weeks when we come to you from Peoria, Illinois, if you can go through 19 other competitors and win the big battle royal.”
Vader: “Dok, Vader time is nearing for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. You see, I have busted his bald head open on several occasions here and I gotta be honest, I have enjoyed every minute of it. This Sunday at WrestleMania, Austin I will make you bleed and I will show you and everyone else here in the WWF who the man is and who is the most dangerous superstar on this roster. Ken Shamrock, this is not an octagon, this is not your world, boy, so I suggest you do your job and stay out of my way, or you too will be left laying courtesy of the man they call Vader. As for tonight, the battle royal, it’s been a long week of not beating anybody up, so I am licking my chops ready to do some clubbing and walk out of that ring the number one contender here tonight.”
Hendrix: “Mankind, your thoughts?”
Mankind: “My thoughts are very twisted and very sick, good doctor. My thoughts are about one thing and that is inflicting pain and suffering to the point of putting an end once and for all to the “Phenom” known as the Undertaker. You say the plot thickens regarding Sycho Sid, I say (raise his voice to a crazed scream) I don’t give a damn about Sycho Sid or any plot that you may be dreaming up. No disqualification and unsanctioned are two words that are music to my ears, well at least my one good ear (he points and camera zooms in on his ear) and at WrestleMania a new set of dark days will begin in the World Wrestling Federation and they will begin minus the “Dead Man.” Uncle Paul, these dark days arriving can only be a good thing for me and you and for all of mankind, well maybe not the other 19 guys that will feel my wrath tonight as I become the number one contender, but at least for the vast majority of mankind (smiles a big toothless smile and waves to the camera) Have a nice day.” (Just as Mankind finishes talking, Sycho Sid enters the picture, carrying a duffel bag. He looks over all four of the men standing there, says not a single word, reaches in his bag and pulls out Paul Bearer’s urn, handing it to the pale faced manager, before again looking up and down Vader, Mankind, Bearer, and Hendrix and simply walking away.)
Back to the ring, Goldust, minus his makeup or ring gear is in the ring with a microphone. He calls for Helmsley and Chyna to bring Marlena to him in the ring. The two appear on the TitanTron, mocking him and professing innocence, acting as though they had no idea where the manager would be. Goldust charges to the back and catches the two trying to shut the trunk of their vehicle with Marlena in it. He arrives in time and pulls her out, as she is still gagged and tied up, and as he is tending to her, Hunter and Chyna run back into the building as Goldust sits by the car, locking the door behind them and closing him outside the arena, banging to get in as the show goes to break.
Following the break, the participants are introduced for the 20 man, number one contender, battle royal. In the match in their order of introduction are: Rocky Maivia, Ahmed Johnson, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Faarooq, Savio Vega, Crush, Flash Funk, Road Warrior Hawk, Road Warrior Animal, Billy Gunn, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Sycho Sid, The Sultan, Blackjack Windham, Blackjack Bradshaw, Vader, Mankind, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and The Undertaker.
Match- 20 Man Over the Top Rope Battle Royal to Name Number One Contender to face winner of the WWF Championship Ladder Match at WrestleMania (Winner will receive match in two weeks on Raw)- The announcers inform us that Goldust had been scheduled as part of the Battle Royal, but has been replaced in the event by Billy Gunn, as he was tending to Marlena and making sure that she was ok. The action starts with the members of the Nation (Faarooq, Savio, and Crush) working as a cohesive unit, working over Flash Funk and Maivia, as the Tag Champs (Owen and Bulldog) put the boots to Ahmed Johnson in the corner. L.O.D. also showed off their teamwork in forcing the first two eliminations of the night, as both clotheslined a competitor to the floor, seeing Animal remove The Sultan and Hawk take out Gunn. The next elimination also involved Hawk and Animal, as the two got wrapped up with the New Blackjacks and as they were battling, Owen and the Bulldog took advantage, flipping all four men to the floor where they continued trading heavy blows all the way up the ramp. Vader and Austin both began clearing house in separate corners of the ring, with the “Rattlesnake” tossing out all three Nation members and Vader eliminating Maivia, Ahmed, and Flash Funk. Owen and the Bulldog turned their attention to The Undertaker in what proved to be their undoing in the match, when after a brief advantage, the “Dead Man” ducked a Bulldog clothesline attempt, which instead hit Owen and sent him to the floor. The ‘Taker then took advantage of the brothers in law again arguing with one another as Owen stood on the floor, grabbing Davey Boy by the back of the neck and hurling him over the top and out of the match. At this same point, an irate, Goldust charged the ring down the ramp, chasing after Helmsley, prompting the “Blue Blood” to eliminate himself, jumping over the top and to the floor and fleeing through the crowd to safety. Mankind and Vader have cornered the Undertaker in a vicious double team attack, laying big boots and fists on “the Phenom,” before lifting him up in the corner in a failed attempt to send him to the floor. Austin and Sid, the other two men left in the match also faced off, with Sid using his size to his advantage in several attempts to send “Stone Cold” to the floor that saw Austin narrowly escape elimination. Following the third try by Sid to send Austin to the floor, “Stone Cold” again slid back under the ropes, and grabbing the Sycho by the front of his tight yanked him to the floor, however, Sid was not eliminated as he went through the top and middle rope. As Mankind continued to put the boots to the “Taker, Vader spun around, just as Austin hit mid ring and the two faced off. With fines, suspensions, and their marquee matchup at Wrestlemania hanging in the balance if either man touched one another, it appeared they were about to light into each other. However, at the same exact time, the Undertaker reversed an Irish Whip by Mankind, sending Foley into the back of Austin. Vader side stepped the “Rattlesnake” and Sycho Sid, still on the floor from before, yanked down the top rope just in time, as Austin flipped over the strand and to the floor, leaving just the Undertaker, Sid, Mankind, and Vader to battle for the number one contender slot. Sid had still not returned to the ring, when the Undertaker reached over the ropes and pulled him back in. He whipped him to the buckle and when he bounced off gave him a thunderous choke slam, with Sid again rolling under the ropes after the impact from the move. Mankind tried a sneak attack, but his charge was also thwarted as he also was met with a huge chokeslam, as he too also scooted under the ropes upon impact. Vader was the third to have his charge at the “Phenom” thwarted, as he also was met by a big hand slapping around his throat. However, the Undertaker did not hoist up the 450 pounder, instead seeing “Stone Cold,” who had still not left ringside, pulling down the top rope, shoved the “mastodon” with authority over the strand and to the arena floor with an assist going to the “Rattlesnake.” Security, agents from the back, and officials emptied out to separate Austin and Vader and return them to the back after Vader hit the floor, with just three competitors being left in the contest in a preview of their triple threat showdown to come on Sunday. Both Sid and Mankind slowly reentered the ring, climbing back in through opposite sides of the ring. Undertaker charged at Sid, catching him on his way back in and pummeling the Sycho and following him after two whips into the buckle and rocking him with a pair of clotheslines. After the second, Sid staggered to the center of the ring, where the Undertaker slung him over his shoulder for a tombstone. Just as he had the big man up, he saw from the corner of his eye, Paul Bearer handing his urn to Mankind, who was charging the “Dead Man” from the side. Undertaker released Sid and caught Foley again by the throat before he could strike with the object, pushing him by his throat all the way over the top rope and to the floor. As he was begin forced over the top though, Mankind hurled the urn back toward the ring over the top of the Undertaker’s head and Sid snatched it out of the air. He belted the Undertaker once again with the object, in an uppercut motion under the chin, rocking him back toward the ropes. Sid followed in by pushing up from underneath on both legs, as both Mankind and Bearer assisted from the floor by pulling his arms, eliminating the Undertaker and leaving Sycho Sid as the number one contender. After the match, Jim Ross voiced his disgust as the devious plan of Bearer, Mankind, and Sid had finally played out, with the three embracing with both Bearer and Foley raising Sid’s hand in celebration of the win. “Damn them,” Ross quipped, “Sycho Sid, the yellow coward, has formed an alliance with the devil himself, Paul Bearer, and with Mankind to screw the Undertaker out of a chance at the WWF title. What does this mean for WrestleMania, how can the Dead Man possibly survive?” (A quick screen shot hyping the contract signing between Hart and Michaels comes on the screen as the show goes to a commercial.)
The show returns and WWF President Gorilla Monsoon is in the ring at a podium, with a table also set up with two chairs on either side and the contract for the WWF Championship Ladder match at WrestleMania sitting on the table. The camera zooms in on a shot of the contract, as Bret Hart’s music hits, and he hops down the aisle on his crutches. Once Bret enters the ring, he remains standing, looking on as HBK’s music hits and Monsoon introduces the champion. The rivals each take a seat facing each other as the President addresses both competitors.
Monsoon: “Gentleman, first I’d like to congratulate you both and wish you the best of luck as we head into this Sunday, where the two of you will face off at WrestleMania 13 at the Rosemont Horizon in a ladder match for the most prestigious prize in this industry, the WWF Championship. On the table before you, is the official contract for the match this Sunday, I would like to allow each of you the time to make a few brief comments and then I would ask that you sign your name in the properly marked spot on the document, making this historic match official. “Hitman,” if you would, the floor is yours to begin.”
Bret: (Giving Michaels a stare of complete disgust) “You couldn’t get the job done, Shawn. You tried your best to take me out and break my leg, so I couldn’t climb that ladder Sunday at Wrestlemania, but once again, you just weren’t man enough, were you, Shawn. You would have to kill me to keep me from climbing that ladder and leaving the ring this Sunday without the WWF Championship in my hands. You see these crutches here now, they will be gone come Sunday, Shawn, and once again, just like your cowardly attack in another attempt to screw me out of my chance and in another attempt to avoid having to face me, you will fail. I will finish the job that I started on you at the “Final Four” this Sunday in Chicago, Shawn. I will break your little skinny leg like a twig, and when I do, I will climb that ladder and each up to grab what is rightfully mine, because I am exactly what I say I am Shawn, the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.”
Monsoon: “Ok, Bret, that’s enough, if you would, please sign the contract.”
Bret: “Oh, I’m signing, I’m glad to sign,(Bret speaks as he signs his name) I am just worried this chicken across the table won’t sign” (Michaels interrupts)
Michaels: “Enough, Bret, enough. I can’t sign quick enough. (He yanks the pen and contract from in front of Bret) You wanted it, you got it, ‘Hitman.’ This is the end of you saying, ‘I got screwed,’ this is the end of you saying ‘Oh, Shawn is scared of me,’ and this is the last time I want to hear you say anything about what is ‘rightfully yours.’ This title (holds belt in Bret’s face) is rightfully mine. Last year, I beat you for it, remember. Then at the Royal Rumble, I won it again, making it rightfully mine until someone comes along and beats me for it. With all your whining and all your crying, Bret, I say it’s you that isn’t man enough, to accept the reality that you are old news, it’s you that isn’t man enough to see that your time has come and gone, and “Hitman,” it’s you that isn’t man enough to beat me and take this WWF championship from me. (Hart stands up as Michaels’ voice raises, Shawn also gets up, as he continues, tipping over the table as the two are now chest to chest in the ring) The Bret Hart era ended at WrestleMania 12, and when I show everyone that I am the “King of the Ladder Match,” and climb to the top rung and pull down my WWF title belt, you will have to accept the reality, Bret, that the “Showstopper,” Shawn Michaels , and not you, is “The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will…” (Bret stops him from finishing, shoving Shawn by his face staggering him back as he cocks back with a crutch looking to hit the champion. In a split second, HBK beats Bret to the punch, dropping him with “Sweet Chin Music” and leaving him lying on the mat. Raw goes off the air to the image of Michaels in his classic double bicep flex pose , standing over the fallen “Hitman” with the belt slung over his shoulder. J.R. pumps up Sunday’s event, saying, “Oh man, you want to talk about a personal rivalry. These two just plain do not like each other. It’s gonna be one for the ages, “The Heart Break Kid” and “The Hitman” for the biggest prize in the industry, on the biggest night in the industry. Ya’ know this thing is gonna explode come Sunday folks, WrestleMania 13, live on pay per view this Sunday, you do not wanna miss it.”)
WrestleMania 13- March 23, 1997- Chicago, IL
The biggest show of the WWF calendar years begins with the commentary team of Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Jerry Lawler reviewing the huge card that awaits to unfold from top to bottom. As they prepare for the “Free for All” Tag Team Battle Royal to begin, the camera zooms in on several legends of the wrestling business that are on hand for the historic event. The announce team introduces Arnold Skaaland, Captain Lou Albano, and Tony Atlas who are sitting among the sold out Rosemont Horizon. Stu and Helen Hart are also on hand to watch their son Bret compete in the main event as well as their son, Owen and son-in-law the British Bulldog in their attempt to defend the Tag Team titles. The participants in the Tag Team Battle Royal are introduced as the “Free for All” begins. The first two teams eliminated are the Godwinns and the Headbangers, both courtesy of the Legion of Doom. Furnas and Lafon are the next to go as The New Blackjacks and the Nation (Savio and Crush) join forces to toss the two. Windham and Bradshaw immediately are the next to go as they fall victim to a double cross by Savio and Crush, leaving the Legion of Doom and the Nation of Domination standing as the two participants that will face off with Owen and the Bulldog for the WWF Tag Team Champions later in the night, as the eight o’clock hour strikes and the pay per view portion of Wrestlemania is ready to begin.
. The introduction to Wrestlemania 13 features a look at classic WrestleMania moments from throughout the first 12 years of the event before eventually focusing on buildup for the Austin/Vader, Undertaker/Mankind/Sid, and Bret/Shawn matches.
Following the intro piece, the viewers are again welcomed by the announce team and the action starts with the Four Way Sudden Death Tag Match that is won in dominating fashion by the New Blackjacks, who cleared the ring of both the Godwins and Headbangers before Windham pins Phil LaFon following a brutal lariat. The win earns the Blackjacks the number one contender spot and they will face the Tag Team Champions next month at In Your House. Next up is Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna), who defeats Goldust (with Marlena) after hitting a pedigree following Chyna distracting the “Gold One” by violently shaking Marlena on the outside.
Following this match we see Jim Ross, who headed to the backstage area, waiting to interview Sycho Sid, Mankind, Vader, and Paul Bearer
Ross: “Good grief, well it appears that we can all be sure now of what the “family” business was that Sycho Sid talked about. Like them or not, Paul Bearer, you have assembled here one of the most intimidating stables of talent that I have seen put together in quite some time. Gentleman, I’d like if you would please give me your thoughts on the huge bouts that you will be involved in tonight, here at WrestleMania, the grandest stage in our industry.”
Mankind: (Rocking back and forth as he speaks) “Family business, Jimmy. You want to talk family business, Jimmy. How is it that you always say, Jimmy (Screams) well, it looks like business has just picked up! (All three men looking on laugh) And business, Jimmy, it is very good for some, but not so good tonight for the Undertaker. You see, the “Unholy Alliance” is about to take over and take out all of your heroes here in the World Wrestling Federation. It began with the addition of Sycho Sid and the first matter at hand is us eliminating the Undertaker and Vader disposing of Steve Austin tonight. Once we have accomplished that and return with Uncle Paul to the funeral parlor you can be certain that we will all have a nice day.”
Sid: (Laughing as he begins) “Dead Man, hahaha, Dead man is right. Because you see that is exactly what you will be when the final bell tolls on the Undertaker here at WrestleMania 13. You showed you are gullible, you showed you are weak, and now you will bow at the feet of the “Unholy Alliance” and at the feet of the master, and ruler of the world.”
Vader: “Austin, its time. I have waited and waited and it’s been far too long since I busted you skull open and made you bleed. Tonight, no one can get in my way, Austin. Not that pretty boy, wanna be wrestler, Ken Shamrock, not Gorilla Monsoon, not anybody. I can almost taste your blood now, Austin. I can hardly wait until its time, its time, its Vader time.”
Heading back to the ring for the third bout of the night, Rocky Maivia successfully defends the Intercontinental title against The Sultan (with Bob Backlund and the Iron Sheik). After the win, Maivia’s father, Rocky Johnson comes from the crowd to save a three on one ambush by Sultan, Sheik, and Backlund, as father and son clear the ring. (After this a promo package airs detailing the twists and turns involved leading up to the triple threat unsanctioned match that is to come next. Following the video, Mankind, Sycho Sid, and Paul Bearer enter together, being announced individually followed by then the grand entrance of the Undertaker.)
Match- Triple Threat Unsanctioned No-Disqualification Match- Mankind vs. Sycho Sid vs. The Undertaker- The opening bell sounds and one of the most anticipated matches on the card begins with the Undertaker gaining the advantage despite the combined efforts of Sid and Mankind. He blocks punches from each and takes turns hammering both of his opponents. After whipping Sid to the far corner, he keeps the upper hand, when Mankind charges from behind but walks in to a powerful side slam causing him to retreat to the floor. Sid also tries another charge from behind, but he too is slammed to the mat. Following up, the Dead Man slings Sid into the ropes and scores, leaving his feet to drop the Sycho with a clothesline. In classic Undertaker style, he wrings his foe’s arm and climbs the turnbuckle, walking the top rope until a refreshed Mankind shakes the rope, causing him to stumble and fall to the apron and then the arena floor. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Foley races down the apron and hits a vicious flying elbow on to the Undertaker, who lays face down on the floor. Mankind continues his assault, driving a series of quick forearm smashes into the back of ‘Taker’s skull, before using two fists full of hair to repeatedly slam his head off the floor. Sid comes around the corner and picks the Undertaker up, holding his arms back and leaving him vulnerable to several chair shots to the ribs and mid-section by Mankind. After releasing the ‘Taker for a second, Sid again yanks him up and prepares to Irish Whip him at his new stable mate, who waits with the chair cocked and ready. Undertaker ducks the swing and turns quickly with a big right hand to the chair, knocking it full force into the masked face of Foley. Sid lunges, but Undertaker ducks him too and retrieves the chair that had been dropped by Mankind. He takes the edge of the chair into Sid’s ribs three times, doubling him over, before crushing him with another three to the back that echo throughout the building. “It sounded like a damn gun shot,” noted Jim Ross, as The Dead Man turns and blasts the spine of Mankind with three more chair shots. He stays on top of Mankind, picking him up and bouncing his head off the ring post, and again staying one step ahead of his opponents, senses Sid sneaking behind him and ducks a right hand, causing Sycho’s fist to meet the unforgiving post. He continues to methodically stalk his opponent, grabbing Sid by his injured hand and slinging him with authority towards the ring steps, which he barrels into shoulder first with a loud crash, moving the stairs several inches on impact. Mankind wildly charges, but the Phenom is again one step ahead, backdropping him to a very loud and awkward fall that sees Foley’s lower half crash across the steps, while his back and head hit the floor with a thud. “That broke him in half,” exclaims Ross, as the Undertaker keeps on his injured rival, hoisting him up and dropping him throat first over the guard rail. Turning again to Sid, he hoists him up to give him much off the same, when Paul Bearer sneaks around and pulls Sid down by his feet, allowing him to shove the ‘Taker from behind causing him to hit the same railing ribs first, leaving him draped over until he falls into the front row. Shaking the cob webs, Sid climbs into the crowd and pummels the doubled over Undertaker with several forearm smashes as the two battle further back into the audience. They reach the last row of fans and the fight continues to the sound and production area at the side of the entrance ramp. Still in control, Sid empties a nearby garbage can and scrambles the brains of the Undertaker with two shots to the head, the first dropping Undertaker to his knees and the second leaving him sprawling face down. An Irish Whip then sends the Undertaker back first into a stack of speakers, dropping him to his knees. He luckily has the instincts to duck however, as Sid has picked up a chair and swings for the fences, narrowly missing the “Taker’s head and striking the sound equipment. Mankind has limped his way up the ramp and back into the fray, greeting the Undertaker with five consecutive left boots to the side of the face, before grabbing a nearby chord, wrapping it around his throat and choking him out. Sid clears off a nearby table, as Mankind continues strangling the Dead Man. Dragging him to the table, Foley locks the Undertaker into position for a suplex on the table, but showing that he still has some fight left, Undertaker reverses and suplexes Mankind on the exposed concrete. Seeing Undertaker still in bad shape, Sid seizes the opportunity, setting him up for a powerbomb, with the still exposed table as his target. Possibly out of desperation, Undertaker again comes up with a huge reversal, sending Sid all the way up and over his head and thumping the back of his head of the concrete with a huge backdrop. Showing his incredible resiliance, Mankind regains his feet and charges at the ‘Taker only to be stopped dead in his tracks by the echoing slap of the Dead Man’s gloved right hand to his throat. Lifting him high in the air, Undertaker splinters the table with the body of Foley, chokeslaming him through the wood and hard and bouncing his spine again off the exposed arena floor. “Oh my gawwwwwd, unbeee-lievable, “ screams McMahon as J.R. observes, “That was the damndest chokeslam I have seen in all my years. There is absolute carnage, the ‘Phenom’ just chokeslammmed Mankind straight to hell.” As Foley squirms in pain, bleeding from his upper arm from a splintered piece of wood that pierced his tricep area, the still woozy Sid begins to back off in retreat, actually climbing back into the crowd and fleeing toward ringside. With a sadistic look on his face, Undertaker stands over the mangled heap that is Mankind and draws a huge pop from the crowd as he motions with his thumb across his throat for a tombstone. “Don’t do it, enough is enough,” shouts Ross, as Undertaker slings Foley over his shoulder, and drives his skull to the concrete, when immediately after impact, Paul Bearer smacks his former longtime associate from behind across the back with a chair causing him to release Mankind. Almost completely unphased, the ‘Taker turns his attention toward Bearer, who waddles as fast as he can to the ramp and back toward the ring. With the Dead Man hot on his trail, Bearer reaches the ring first by a split second, grabbing for his urn that he had left on the apron. Before he can turn to use the urn, Undertaker arrives and hoists him in the air with both hands around his throat choking the life out of the pale, chubby manager. In the mean time, Sid has viciously assaulted a ringside production hand, stealing his camera, prompting Lawler to question, “What is wrong with this guy?” As the ‘Taker releases Bearer with a hard slam to the floor, he turns and is kayoed by a gruesome and loud shot with the video camera, busting his head wide open under his purple protective face gear. With his man down, Sid reaches under the ring and yanks out two tables, sliding one into the ring and setting one up on the outside. The motionless Undertaker seems ripe for the pickings, when a collective gasp comes from the crowd, followed by an ovation in a show of respect and utter disbelief as the bloodied and battered Mankind limps his way back into the fray. “How the heck do you stop this guy?” asks “The King,” as J.R. remarks, “how in the hell is Mankind standing right now?” Another gasp comes from the capacity crowd, as just when Foley arrives, the Undertaker sits up and thrusts his hand around his throat once again climbing to his feet with Mankind still in his grasp. This time Foley counters though, sinking his fingers down the gullet of the ‘Taker, not only freeing the choke, but powering the Dead Man to his back on the floor, cinching the mandible claw in deep, while emiting repeated skin crawling shrieks as he continues to squeeze. “The guy is still mounting an offense, he is not human,” says Ross still in disbelief, as it appears the lights are getting turned out on the Undertaker. Sid calls for his new comrade to bring their enemy back into the ring, and Mankind obliges. Sid takes over from there, whipping the ‘Taker to the ropes and giving him a taste of his own medicine, slapping his hand around Undertaker’s throat and pounding him into the canvass with a chokeslam. The Sycho followes the big chokeslam with a violent powerbomb as Mankind at the same time has set up the table in the ring as the two prepare to put the nail in the coffin of this bout. A recovered Paul Bearer tosses the urn into Mankind, as he and Sid rejoice in what turns out for the moment to be a premature celebration as another roar comes over the crowd when behind them the Undertaker again rises from his back to the seated position. Waiting a few seconds to long, Mankind raises the urn above his head as he readies to strike, but the Undertaker has gotten to his knees after quiclky pulling something from his tights. Before Foley can bring the golden cannister down and connect, yet another gasp comes from the fans, as a blindng flash of fire comes from the hands of the ‘Phenom,’ engulfing Mankind and actually catching both a portion of his hair and his clothing on fire. “Mankind is on fire, Mankind is on fire, there is a damn human being in the ring and he is on fire,” repeats J.R., as Foley squirms on the mat with Paul Bearer who has slid in the ring to try and smother his burning protégé. In the chaos of the moment, Sid grabs the urn and he too lifts in in an attempt to knock out the still bloody Undertaker. Now back on his feet though, the Undertaker again beats him to the punch, going to the throat again, causing the urn to drop once more as he lifts Sycho Sid sky high and delivers a chokeslam through the table that had been set up in the ring. With Sid convulsing on the mat before simply lying motionless, Undertaker retrieves the urn and stalks toward Mankind. “I think enough is enough here, I know this is unsanctioned, but somebody better stop the damn match,” pleads J.R., as Undertaker first waffles Paul Bearer over the head with the urn, sending him sprawling to the mat in convulsions as well. Miraculously, a bilinded, bloodied, and burned Foley again rises. “Please stay down, Mick and hope that you can live to fight another day,” advises a compassionate J.R. Undertaker shows zero mercy though, again squeezing his hand around Mankind’s throat before hoisting him up and depositing him all the way over the top rope and through the previously set up table, which cracks in pieces as Foley’s mangled body crashes through and again bounces of the floor. A “Holy Shit” chant from the Rosemont Horizon crowd is near deafening with medical personnel now scurrying to tend to Mankind, as Ross hollers over top of what he has just witnessed, “That killed him! Mankind is broken in half, with god as my witness, he is broken in half.” Surveying the wreckage, the Undertaker again calls for the end as the crowd erupts again. The staggereing Sid now wobbles right into the arms of the ‘Dead Man,’ who scoops and flips him over his shoulder in one motion, planting him with a tombstone. ‘Taker folds the arms of Sid across his chest and flips his hair back, rolling his eyes back in his head in what is an incredible visual given the his blood covered face under the protective mask. The referee jumps in for a one, two, three, as the gong hits to play the Undertaker’s music and he has defied the odds to win this brutal contest. As the ‘Dead Man’ basks in his win and slowly limps to the back, Bearer and Sid are slow to regroup and EMT’s attempt the strap Foley to a guerney. They begin to wheel him away, as Sid and Bearer lean on each other as they follow behind, when the crowd roars another ovation of respect at Foley, when he climbs from the stretcher and insists on joining his stablemates in making it to the back on his own power. “Like him or not, you have to respect the fighting spirit of this man,” Ross says as the threesome limp off leading us out of this match as the cameras ready to bring us backstage, “and even though he was on the short end of the stick tonight, know that this brave competitor, no matter how deranged he may be gave you of his heart tonight, he gave you of his soul.”
The camera takes us backstage, where we see Steve Austin walking with a purpose. He comes upon the New Blackjacks, who are now dressed in their street clothes, each having a beer and celebrating becoming the number one contenders. Austin does a double take and speaks at the two
Austin: “So, you fellas are pretty proud of yourselves? Celebrating with a few cold ones, eh?”
Bradshaw: “Hell yeah, Steve, you are looking at the next tag team champions, can I grab you one?”
Austin: “Well, as much as I love drinkin’ beer, I got some ass kickin’ to do here in a few minutes, so you silly bastards have yourfun and it would be best that you just stay right the hell out of my way, because I ain’t in a celebrating mood.”
Windham: “Whoa, whoa, calm down there big guy, we are done fightin’ here tonight, we are just doing a little Texas style celebrating. If you don’t care to join, best of luck to you.”
(The Blackjacks turn and walk the other way, still drinking their beers and carrying their bags. Austin takes a few steps the other way, then picks up a steel chair and turns around to lay both men out with a chair shot. He rummages through their bags while they are down and pulls out a bullrope, that he slings over his shoulder before continuing to walk away. As he rounds the corner, he once again walks directly into WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon, who sees the two competitors on the floor and then looks at Austin.)
Monsoon: “Good grief, well, Steve, you have waited long enough I suppose, tonight is your night. I know what you are expecting, but you have a big matchup here tonight, and you almost made it to bell time, so I guess this time I will look the other way and just say good luck to you. But remember after this match tonight, come tomorrow on Raw, it is time that you fall into line and at least try to follow some of the rules and regulations around here.”
Austin: “You obviously don’t know “Stone Cold” Steve Austin very well, do you? I don’t follow your precious little rules, Monsoon. I don’t play well with others, never have and never will. So, you ain’t gonna say it, so I will say it to you, because as president of this company, you are not gonna want to see the beating that I lay on Vader. So, Monsoon, you silly, banana eatin’ bastard, you know the drill, why don’t you do yourself a favor, and you walk your little carcass out that door and come back later when Vader’s bloody ass whippin’ is over.”
Monsoon: (Throws his hands in the air and shrugs, shaking his head) “Yep, I don’t think that’s a bad idea. I can let myself out and I will be back in a little bit.” (Opens a door to walk out of building, still shaking head) “Banana eating bastard, give me a break!”
Returning to ringside, the next match is a no contest, with The British Bulldog and Owen Hart retaining the Tag Team titles against Legion of Doom and The Nation (Savio and Crush). The match is tossed out when L.O.D. and the Nation could not be seperated and Owen and the Bulldog actually had to be pulled apart from each other. Following this bout a video package airs recapping the Austin and Vader feud, followed by the introduction of Ken Shamrock as the special enforcer referee and the the two competitors in the “First Blood” match.
Match- “First Blood Match”- Vader (with Paul Bearer) vs “Stone Cold” Steve Austin-( Ken Shamrock is Special Enforcer Referee-) The match begins as Shamrock check with both competitors. Austin, wearing cowboy boots with spurs, jeans, and a black T-shirt is checked out, and he has set the bullrope he had just stolen in the corner. Vader, wears his usual wrestling attire and immediately gets into a battle of words with Shamrock, who does not budge one inch, repremainding Vader, as Austin sees the distraction and opens up on the offensive. He tears into Vader with a furious attack, dropping him with fast right hands and then a succession of boots to the chest once he has fallen to the mat. “Austin is like a crazed dog,” remarks J.R., as “Stone Cold” removes his belt and the loud crack of leather on flesh echoes throughout the arena as he smacks it across his huge foes back several times. “He is whipping Vader like a damn government mule,” Ross quips, as Austin follows the strapping up by wrapping the belt around Vader’s throat. He continues to choke the life out of Vader, when Shamrock intercedes, and breaks up the choke. Not pleased with the officials move, Austin and Shamrock argue fiercely in the ring, before “The Rattlesnake” turns to continue his assault with the belt. As he pulls the strap back, Bearer reaches from the apron and grabs hold of the end, saving Vader from another lash. Austin, seeing this, tugs on the belt and yanks Bearer into the ring. Although Vader was spared for the moment, the chubby manager was not, as Austin treated him to several skin blistering lashes across the back, before wrapping the belt around his hand and leading with the buckle, mounts Bearer and unloads with a flurry of rights that busts him open across his forehead. “That ain’t gonna win Austin the match, but its retribution. Paul Bearer has been a thorn in the side of the “Texas Rattlesnake” for long enough, and he is finding out at WrestleMania that payback is a bitch,” observed Ross, as Austin finished pummeling the manager only to turn around and walk into a huge running tackle by Vader. As the belt dropped from Austin’s grasp, Vader scooped it up and returned the favor from moments ago, tearing off Austin’s shirt before lacing into him with nine consecutive smacks across the now exposed back with the strap. Again following Austin’s offensive pattern, Vader then begins strangling his opponent with the belt, as Austin gasped for air and squirmed as he slowly fades. Shamrock again breaks the choke up, causing Vader to turn and shove the Ultimate Fighting legend to the mat. Shamrock responds, hopping back to his feet quickly and returning the shove, knocking Vader to the mat momentarily. When he rises, he starts to go back at the referee, before he is spun around by Austin and whipped to the ropes. “Stone Cold” scores with a Lou Thez press and repeated rights, before rolling off and into the corner where he retrieves the bullrope. He again whips Vader in, and catches him square in the forehead with the bell on the end of the rope, as Shamrock takes a close look to see if the shot opened up the 450 pounder. “Now that is what I call ringing his bell,” jokes McMahon, as Austin stays right on his man. Another whip in sees Austin clothesline Vader with the rope, wrapping it again around his throat and squeezing the breath from his much larger adversary. Pulling back on the rope, he viciously drags Vader all over the ring by his throat, as Paul Bearer, still a bloody mess, shrieks in horror at the sight. “Look at that, look at Paul Bearer, he is disgusting,” notes McMahon, before Austin pulls the big man to his feet and tosses him over the top while keeping the rope around his throat in noose-like fashion. Austin sits down and yanks for all he is worth, hanging Vader, whose feet kick in the air as he has the life slowly sapped from his body. Bearer again tries to enter the fray, with a steel chair, but Shamrock cuts him off and the two begin arguing. As a limp Vader hangs from the rope, Sycho Sid comes down the ramp and steps over the top rope, charging at Austin. Seeing him coming, Austin releases Vader, dropping him in a heap to the floor and quickly wraps the rope around his fist, catching the interfering Sid right between the eyes with the bell, knocking him to his back. Austin then strings up Sid, just as he had Vader, as the crowd comes unglued. He tosses the Sycho over the ropes as well, and it is now Sid being hung, feet flailing away, at the hands of “The Rattlesnake.” As Shamrock turns his attention back to the ring in an attempt to free Sid and send him back to the locker room, Bearer again sneaks in and smacks Austin across the back with a chair shot. Austin drops the rope and turns to Bearer, grabbing him by the collar, before kicking him in the gut and dropping his bloodied body in a heap with a “Stunner.” “It’s a three on one handicapped match out here, Austin is fighting for his life,” Ross protests, as Sid and Shamrock exchange words on the floor. Vader has slowly climbed back into the ring, but Austin again was waiting, using the chair brought into play by Paul Bearer to waffle the “Mastodon” across the back and arm with six consecutive loud, crashing blows. With Vader woozy, Austin goes for a knockout blow, taking a huge swing at the head of Vader with the chair, that is avoided at the last split second, causing Austin to instead bring the chair down hard on the turnbuckle, forcing him to drop it. In desperation, when Austin turns around, Vader, still on his knees after ducking the chair, scores with a blatant low blow, dropping “Stone Cold.” After catching his breath, Vader goes on the attack, crushing Austin with three huge elbow drops, knocking him face first into the canvass with each. Sid has also recovered and despite Shamrock’s pleas, remains at ringside, pounding the mat in support of his stable mate, as Vader scoops up Austin and deposits him over the top rope at the feet of the Sycho. Sid picks him up and slings him shoulder first into the ring post and then back first off the guard rail, as Vader taunts the crowd from inside the ring. As Sid continues to assault Austin, Vader slides to the outside and begins searching under the ring. He finds what he had been searching for and raises the huge wrench that he has used to open up Austin on several occasions high in the air for all to see. He manuevers around to the slumped over Austin, who has crawled back toward the ring and leans against the ring post on the outside. On instinct, Austin saves himself from defeat as the deafening “ping” of the wrench hitting the steel post vibrates throughout the arena after he ducked at the last second. The wrench falls to the floor and bounces back under the apron at this same time, as Vader misses it when he bends to try and pick it up. Austin tries to pull himself up, latching onto Vader, who clubs him back to the arena floor with several huge forearm smashes. Sid goes to retrieve the wrench as Vader rolls Austin back in the ring and pulls him to the corner. He ascends the turnbuckle and flattens Austin with a “Vader Sault,” as the still groggy but now conscious Bearer and Sid both raise their arms in celebration. After stopping to celebrate for that brief moment, Sid continues his pursuit of the wrench, lifting the apron and reaching his hand to grab the tool. He appears to be having trouble finding it and again pulls the apron up for a look, when his cocky smile turns to a look of intense fear. “Sid looks like he has seen a ghost. What the heck is under there,” squeals “The King,” as Sid is suddenly flailing his arms and being pulled underneath the ring. Vader, not seeing any of this climbs the ropes for a second “Vader Sault,” and at the same time, Paul Bearer’s search for the wrench has seen him also mysteriously sucked under the ring. Vader scores with the second awesome leap and then turns to see that none of his sidekicks are at ringside any more. He questions Shamrock, who shrugs and tries to explain, as Vader side steps him and goes to get the wrench himself, stll unaware of the previous two attempts. Before he gets to the outside, he looks down over the top rope to see the Undertaker emerge out from under the ring, staring up at him with the wrench in his hand as the crowd goes crazy. Vader argues his case with the ‘Taker and Shamrock, as J.R. enthusiastically notes, “The Phenom has evened things up here and brought a little justice to this ‘Unholy Alliance.’ The big bully, Vader, don’t like it when it his lunch money and someone else is doing the stealing.” Austin slowly rises behind Vader as his protests continue, waiting for the big man to turn around. When Vader does spin, he is met by the classic boot to the gut and as J.R. called it, “A WrestleMania sized Stunner,” that sent the big man reeling back off the ropes. When he bounced back, Austin nails a second stunner that floors Vader and he looks to the outside at the Undertaker, confused, but accepting of the wrench that the “Dead Man” offers up. As the Undertaker slowly returns to he dressing room, “The Rattlesnake” is coiled and ready to strike, concussing the skull of Vader with the wrench when he does get up and approach, splitting him open from ear to ear and leaving him a blood soaked mess as Shamrock called for the bell and names Austin the winner. Austin holds the wrench high above, before putting it in his back pocket, slinging the bullrope over his shoulder and mounting the ropes to salute the crowd and celebrate his win. After hitting each corner, he heads toward the back, as Shamrock attempts to stop him to raise his hand. Austin refuses and flips him a “double bird,” walking backwards away from him while still jawing. Shamrock argues back for a moment, before being blindsided by Sid, catching him in the back of the head with the urn. Down but not out, Shamrock struggles to fight back as Sid drops another blow from the urn to his head. Austin sees this and returns to try and chase off Sid, when the crowd gasps once again as Ross expresses his shock, “You have got to be kidding me,” as Mankind returns from the back and charges Austin, who sees him coming and greets him on the ramp with a “stunner.” Austin gets at Sid and the two brawl back up the ramp, as Shamrock slowly gets up and approaches to join in the fighting. But, Vader has got back to his feet and retrieved a ballpeen hammer from under the ring, knocking Shamrock silly with a shot to the back of the head, before mounting him and bouncing his skull off the steel ramp. “It looks like its about 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday night in Muskokee,” compares Ross, as security seperates Sid and Austin, allowing Sid to return and put the boots to Shamrock. Austin backs away and is freed from security as he again backs up the ramp, giving the frenzied crowd a two finger salute and then bending over once again to pick up the bullrope just before he backs under the Titan Tron. Right as he scoops the rope and pivots to walk forward, he is leveled, nearly having his head taken off by a Blackjack Bradshaw lariat, that bounced Austin’s head off the steel ramp. Windham follows behind and retrieves their stolen item and lifts the wrench out of Austin’s back pocket, pulling Austin up by the back of his head, sticking the wrench up under his chin as he talks a little trash, before the two turn around and leave the scene. Security still tries to resolve the attack on Shamrock, as the cameras cut to a promo package showing the history of the Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart rivalry.
Following that, the action goes back to the ring, where where Faarooq defeats Ahmed Johnson in a “Chicago Street Fight,” after Savio Vega and Crush interfered on Faarooq’s behalf. When they continue the beating after the match, the Legion of Doom even the sides and help Ahmed to clear the ring. With the main event up next, WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon, is announced first (he has returned to the building following the Austin/Vader match) and he gives the ring introductions for the historic title bout, with Bret Hart coming out first, still with a noticable limp, followed by the champion, Shawn Michaels.
Match- WWF Championship Ladder Match- Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Bret “The Hitman” Hart- The opening bell sounds on this highly anticipated rematch from one year earlier with Hart and Michaels feeling each other out as expected. HBK immediately goes for the hurt leg of his rival, sweeping it from under him and twisting on his ankle. Bret kicks him off, but Michaels quickly sweeps the same leg and goes back to work, dropping three quick elbows before again cinching up on the ankle. Hart reaches the ropes for a break and when he limps back to the center and the two lock up. A Michaels hip toss attempt is blocked and countered as “The Hitman” hurls the champion on to his back and follows his opponents lead, going to work on Shawn’s previously injured leg . He stretches it out and drops several knees to weaken the leg, then spinning it into two consecutive spinning toe holds before laying back on the third spin into a figure four leglock. “A man can not climb a ladder with a broken leg. Sound strategy from one of the best in the business,” says J.R., complimenting Bret on his plan of attack. Michaels screams in pain and fights to turn the hold over, but Bret holds his ground and continues to sit back on the move. Finally, HBK reaches the ropes, causing official Earl Hebner to step in and force a break. Despite the break, Shawn is in trouble and “The Hitman” stays right on top of him, scooping him up and bringing him down hard onto his knee with a back breaker. Hart seamlessly follows up with an elbow drop from the second rope and slides under the ropes and makes the first bid of the match to set up the ladder. After sliding it in the ring, Bret leaves the ladder on the mat as he picks Michaels up and slings him toward the turnbuckle. Shawn hits at full speed, flipping up and over the buckle backwards and plummeting all the way to the arena floor. Seeing an opportunity to end things quick, Hart sets up the ladder and manuevers it under the championship belt that is hanging high above the ring. After having some difficulty setting it up, Bret finally begins his climb. Once about half way up, Michaels returns to the ring and dropkicks the ladder out from under Bret, sending him crashing flat on his back in the center of the ring. The ladder now lays ominously against the ropes, still opened, as both superstars struggle to get to their feet. They both rise at about the same time, but Bret being closer to the ladder closes the sides together and shoves it backwards, cracking the steel off the skull of Michaels. “The human body is not made to endure shots like that,” explains Ross, as the structure lands right on top of the now fallen champion. Hart rolls quickly to the outside and retrieves a chair, returning and crashing it down several times full force at all different areas of the ladder that still sits on top of HBK. Shawn manages to push the ladder off of himself, but “The Hitman” still weilds the chair and continues to work over the entire body of Michaels, with crushing shots to both legs, arms, and his back. Bret again goes for the ladder, which is now a bit bent up after the chair shots from a few moments before. Again, Michaels responds as Bret starts his climb, crawling to the side of the ladder and pushing it out from under the challenger, who rides the falling structure as it falls until he is crotched on the top rope, eliciting a collective groan from the crowd. “The Hitman will be hitting all the high notes in the shower tonight,” jokes Lawler, as Bret slumps from the ropes on to the apron before falling to the floor. Trying to show the innovative skills that have made him synonomous with ladder matches, Michaels pushes the ladder so its bottom rests on the floor, with the top end still laying over the top rope. As the dazed “Hitman” gets up, HBK leaps off the top rope and pulls the ladder down with each hand, getting a teeter-totter effect that catches Bret under the chin on the outside with an uppercut from the ladder. The ladder falls to the outside as Bret wriths in pain on the floor. HBK slides to the outside and rests the ladder on the guard rail and the ring apron, pulling up his hated foe in a bear hug, before falling back with him and sending his face once again off the steel in a “hot shot” type move. Readying to take flight, Shawn then lays Bret out on the ladder and heads to the far side of the ring, climbing the ropes. He leaps and hits a spectacular flying elbow on to Hart, bending the ladder nearly in half on impact, with both wrestlers squirming on the floor clutching their ribs seconds after the collision. “Incredible,” remarks Mcmahon, as the two grapplers slowly get back to their feet. Once both up, the two jockey for position, with Michaels trying to suplex Bret on the floor. Hart twice blocks the attempt, before lifting HBK up and suplexing him across the ladder that still sets with one end on the railing and one on the apron. Appearing almost bent in half, Michaels lays on the ladder, screaming in pain, when Bret again retrieves a chair and laces into the champion with a series of shots to the legs and chest. Shawn finally falls to the floor, and the “Hitman” lays in wait, pulling him up and attempting a whip into the post, but the champion reverses and instead it is Hart whose skull cracks of the steel. The back and forth battle continues as Michaels gets a second wind and follows up with another Irish Whip that sends Bret sprawling across the Spanish announcers table, sliding over top and wiping out both commentators. HBK pursues and stands on the table, pulling Bret up by his hair as he attempts a piledriver on the table. Bret blocks two attempts and backdrops Shawn off the table, but showing his amazing agility, Shawn lands on his feet while Bret falls back down on the table. As Hart spins around on all fours still on the table, Michaels catches him turning around with “Sweet Chin Music,” leaving the challenger sprawled out on the table and looking to be out cold. “If Michaels can get a ladder up, he has got this thing won,” remarks Ross, as the world champ goes under the apron to pull out another ladder. He begins sliding it under the ropes, but stops and looks over at the hapless “Hitman” and then to the crowd. Sensing what may come next, the Rosemont Horizon comes alive and Michaels does not disappoint. He open up the 15 foot high ladder on the floor, and climbs to the top, leaping in a majestic dive from the top and crushing Bret with a perfect body press splash from way above, sending both competitors crashing through the table. Another “Holy Shit” chant erupts from the crowd as J.R. nearly comes out of his skin, “From 15, maybe 20 feet high, Michaels has thrown caution to the wind and he came up big. This is the damndest ladder match I have ever seen.” As both men writh in pain on the floor, Michaels is the first to slowly gain his feet. When he does, he returns to the ladder, folds it back up and slides it in the ring. Still shaken, he moves slowly in setting it up and then begins his climb as Bret has barely begun moving. After climbing half way up, Bret has just reached his arm onto the apron to climb back in. Shawn reaches the top rung, but he miscalculated when he set it up, as the belt is still just out of reach. He hurries to climb down and reposition it, as Bret has now crawled into the ring. As Michaels begins another climb, Bret has reached an arm out and has grabbed the bottom rung. Shawn continues to climb as “The Hitman” now has also begun going up the other side. Bret reaches through and grabs HBK’s ankle to stop him from going any higher, forcing him to stop his ascent. Hart continues to climb, and the pair now sit at the top of the ladder and trade right hands that with each connection gets a gasp from the crowd as both hang on with one arm for dear life. After trading shots, Hart manages to reach over and grab a handful of hair, bouncing Michaels’ head off the top of the ladder that has now shifted several inches out of the ring’s center. Bret climbs one last rung and snatches Shawn in a front face lock, pushing off the top of the ladder all in one motion and hitting an incredible superplex that again draws a huge pop from the crowd. Somehow upon their landing, Hart rolls over his opponent and cinches his legs under his arms before seamlessly spinning him over into the sharpshooter. The announcers explain that there are no submissions in a ladder match, as Bret sits back and really lays into his finisher. Michaels screams in pain and after almost a full minute in the hold, he somehow slides underneath it, grabbing Bret by his legs and reversing the position into a sharpshooter of his own. It is Hart now that pounds the mat in pain as Michaels sits back on the submission hold. After enduring the pain of his own finisher, Bret somehow returns the favor, sliding under just as Shawn had and once again locking in a sharpshooter of his own. “Unnn-bee-lievable. This is the type of action and competition you only see in the World Wrestling Federation,” says McMahon, as Hart again leans back on the move, bending Michaels back in a “U” shape. “What in the hell is it gonna take to end this thing? Sometimes its better off to have it end and live to fight another day,” observes J.R., as an exhausted HBK finally rolls to his side and both men slump to the mat. When they eventually regain their feet, Michaels again goes for his deadly superkick, but Bret ducks and manuevers behind him and sends the back of the champ’s skull off the ladder with a Russian leg sweep, again following the move by pushing the ladder on top of Shawn. Bret sensing victory slides quickly outside and grabs a third ladder, setting it up in the center of the ring. A groggy Michaels has the same plan and instinctively rises and sets up the ladder that was on top of him as well. With both stars climbing up the same side, they reach across and land a few blows as both continue upwards toward the gold. Bret walks his ladder a bit closer to HBK and grabs Shawn by the hair in attempt to slam his head into the steel once again. Shawn blocks and instead bounces “The Hitman’s” skull of the apparatus, nearly dropping him to the mat. Again showing his great balance, Michaels climbs in spider-like fashion over to the same ladder Bret is climbing, latching on to a sleeper hold as he crawls on to Hart’s back. Losing his grip after a few desperation elbows from Hart, Michaels settles in one rung below Bret as they both climb one rung higher. He again tries to ram the head of the “Hitman” into the steel, but Bret rocks him back with a much more solid elbow that leaves Shawn teetering by one arm. He looks back up and Bret meets his forehead with a pair of solid right boots, the first nearly knocking him off and the second sending the champion sprawling to the mat from about 12 to 13 feet up. Seeing the opportunity, Bret takes a second to regroup, before continuing his climb and snatching the title belt, as the bell rings and signifies his victory and the beginning of his fourth reign as WWF Champion. “Bret Hart, Bret Hart, the ‘Hitman’ has climbed back to the top of the mountain at WrestleMania, and once again the WWF had better brace itself for another ride through an era of excellence of execution,” shouts Ross, losing his voice as the camera focuses on the “Hitman” exhausted, but jubiliant as he holds up the strap for all to see while still atop the ladder. J.R. takes us home as the camera zooms in on the new champion. “WrestleMania 13 was an event for the ages. We have a brand new world champion. The pink and black attack is back and he fought his heart out tonight to earn that title.”
(This marks the end of Part II of the story. It will be continued the following night in Rockford, Illinois, with a brand new world champion and many questions left to be answered on Raw is War and beyond as we continue to ponder “What If Shawn Michaels never ‘lost his smile?”)